Norwood’s first home game for 2017 has ended in an unsatisfying 11 point loss, beaten by a stronger quicker and slicker Noble Park unit on Saturday. We weren’t beaten by much mind you, but enough, in all areas of the game, to just shake your head and say ‘well played’ to the opposition. With many more inside 50s, more shots on goal, a domination in the centre clearances and better field kicking, its testimony to our grit and effort that the final margin was only 11 points.

The game started very well for the home side as we kicked the first very early – a running goal to exciting new ruckman Joel Narburgs. Lochie Dickson streamed out of the centre soon after and dobbed one from 45 on the run to increase our lead. Noble answered, but then Rej slotted through a lovely goal from 35m deep in the dead pocket on the boundary. Despite the aerial dominance of Naburgs at the centre taps and other stoppages we were not taking advantage as repeatedly Noble won the clearance and surged forward. They assumed a small amount of control and kicked another couple of majors before we were the beneficiary of a “double goal”. Trent Shinners marked and goalled and a scuffle ensued. After some deliberation we received another kick, Rej, always keen to take it, dished to Fingers whose floating drop punt was on target for our 5th. At 1/4T we had a small lead, 5.1 – 4.2

The 2nd quarter saw the game start to move Nobles way as they assumed control around the stoppages and moved the ball around the ground and into F50 with more precision than us. We’d lost the run of Alex Calder early to a hammy, and Justin Gould also took a heavy knock and despite playing on would not be at his usual peak for the entire day. At stoppages we were either hustled off the ball or unable to prevent their seemingly bigger bodies from breaking through our tackles. Despite Noble having a clear advantage in general play our backline was holding up manfully through stoic defensive work from both Lochie Dickson and Matt Aver, who were both having excellent days. We slotted 2 straight goal for the quarter, both to Leroy, and went to the big break trailing by 2 points. 7.1 – 7.3

In the 3rd term Noble continued to hold sway in general play, having a swag of inside 50s, but they were inaccurate in front of goal, scoring just 1.6 for the quarter. We were hanging on by our fingernails, our solitary goal for the quarter coming from a strong mark by Skayve at the top of the square. He had a chance to double his tally late in the quarter but missed from a tight angle when a goal would have evened the game right up. At 3/4T we trailed 8.3 – 8.9.

At the huddle Dennis acknowledged that we had been 2nd best on the day thus far, but that, in reality, we were only a goal down. If we were good enough, we could win it. Noble had other ideas however, and slammed on 3 goals in the first 12 minutes to open up what seemed an unassailable 23 point lead. We were not done however, and launched a counter attack of our own. We found some run and zest through the middle which had been missing. Trent Shinners marked 45m out on the members half-forward line and slotted a beautiful goal to give us hope, then Fingers tore through the centre and goalled to reduce the margin to 12 points. Moments later Shinners marked again on the other flank and slotted another quality goal. We surged forward from the centre and forced another point, we were now only 5 points down and a goal could win it for us. We had piled on the pressure to give ourselves a chance, when really it had not looked likely. Now was the time for our defensive setup from a point to come to the party. All day Noble had picked apart our defensive strategy inside our F50, moving the ball with precision and almost always ending up inside their own F50. This was in stark contrast to our own efforts from a Noble behind, where we were nearly always forced to kick long down the ground to a contest. From this last score of ours this difference was underlined horribly as Noble went long, the ball went over the back to a swarm of Noble runners and they moved the ball precisely into CHF where the umpteenth hit-up of the day was completed. The ensuing goal killed our chances and our attempts at a ‘big steal’ had fallen short. Noble ran out deserving winners by 11 points.

Our good players on the day included Matt Aver, whose poise and intercept marking was at its absolute best. Lochie Dickson’s run and creativity from tight spots was again on show, and Alex Grieve put in his best game in the Norwood seniors from half-back. Joel Naburgs toiled hard without reward in the ruck, Darin Stewart never stopped presenting across half-forward and Fingers was the best of a mid-field group that lowered its colours on the day.

The loss is a tough one to take as home game wins in the EFl are a ‘nopn-negotiable. We are already behind the 8 ball at 0-2 and face an absolute MUST-win at Doncaster, a side we certainly owe after they upset us at home in our only previous 1st Division meeting last year.

Go Wooders